What happens when your brain goes on auto pilot?

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I drive a lot, and sometimes I just “scare” back into reality and I realize I wasn’t even paying attention the last few seconds, and it feels weird. Why and how does this happen?

In: 2885

When you’re doing something you have done countless times before, the neural pathways involved have become so engrained that they fire correctly without conscious effort. The conscious mind is easily bored, we did not evolve to do something as monotonous as driving for hours on end. The human mind craves constant stimulation, and when it can’t get it it will invent it via day dreaming.

A few seconds is amateur hour. I was driving cross-country and made it to mile marker 50 into the next state over in full on autopilot mode.

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As well as the top answer, it’s also the case that your brain doesn’t store into long term memory anything that it seems as unnecessary. You feel like your brain was blank and you weren’t paying attention, but you probably were – your brain just didn’t store any of that information.

“You”, whatever that is, decides conscious intervention is not needed and lets you think about other things, or shut down completely. No sense wasting brain time. Will let you know when something unexpected occurs. Hopefully it won’t be a tragic revelation.

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I drive a lot, and sometimes I just “scare” back into reality and I realize I wasn’t even paying attention the last few seconds, and it feels weird. Why and how does this happen?

In: 2885

When you’re doing something you have done countless times before, the neural pathways involved have become so engrained that they fire correctly without conscious effort. The conscious mind is easily bored, we did not evolve to do something as monotonous as driving for hours on end. The human mind craves constant stimulation, and when it can’t get it it will invent it via day dreaming.

A few seconds is amateur hour. I was driving cross-country and made it to mile marker 50 into the next state over in full on autopilot mode.

[removed]

As well as the top answer, it’s also the case that your brain doesn’t store into long term memory anything that it seems as unnecessary. You feel like your brain was blank and you weren’t paying attention, but you probably were – your brain just didn’t store any of that information.

“You”, whatever that is, decides conscious intervention is not needed and lets you think about other things, or shut down completely. No sense wasting brain time. Will let you know when something unexpected occurs. Hopefully it won’t be a tragic revelation.